Clarifying Your Core Values

Values

 

A key element of “knowing thyself” is sorting out what’s really important to you. Without a clear sense of your personal principles and priorities, it’s almost impossible to bring the picture of your preferred future sharply into focus. Investing the time and effort to uncover and articulate your personal principles has many important benefits.

You’ll have a strong foundation to build your leadership upon. James Kouzes and Barry Posner’s study of credible and effective leaders led them to conclude, “Values are directly relevant to credibility. To do what we say we will do (our respondents’ behavioral definition of credibility), we must know what we want to do and how we wish to behave. That’s what our values help us to define.”

Clear personal principles give you a much stronger sense of your personal “bottom-line.” Knowing where you stand clarifies what you won’t sit still for.

It’s easier to make choices between conflicting opportunities that arise, where to invest your time, what behavior is most appropriate, and where you need to concentrate your personal improvement efforts.

You’ll be much closer to finding your personal energy source and developing that critical leadership passion.

Your self-identity, self-confidence, and sense of security will be strengthened.

Your principles will provide the stable and solid core you need to transform the rapid changes coming at all of us from terrifying threats into exciting opportunities.

You can more clearly see to what extent your personal values are aligned with your team and organization’s values.

To clarify your core values, develop a comprehensive list of all your possible values. Now rank each one as “A” (high importance), “B” (medium importance), “C” (low importance). Review your A and B values. Are there any that you feel are essentially the same value or one is an obvious subset of the other? If so, bring them together and rename it if necessary. Rank order the remaining list from highest through to lowest priority. You should now have your top five core values.

FOCUSING ON YOUR CORE VALUES:

Ask yourself whether these are your true, internal “bone deep” beliefs or an external “should” value. We often don’t recognize a lifetime of conditioning that has left us with other people’s belief systems. Replace any “should” values with your own.

Examine each core value to ensure that it is your end value and not a means to some other end. For example, wealth is seldom a value in itself. It’s usually the means to status, power, security, recognition, freedom, accomplishment, pleasure, helping others, or some other end value.

Write out a “statement of philosophy” that outlines and explains each of your core values. This is for you own private use, so be as honest and candid as you can.

These exercises are rarely done quickly. It could take you dozens or even hundreds of hours to sort through the “shouldas”, “oughtas” and “couldas” and get to your basic, core principles. The more meditation, contemplation, and writing time you put into this, the truer and more energizing your core values will become.

“VALUING” YOUR LIFE AND OTHERS

Your values largely affect how you behave and how others perceive
you. Identifying them is important to understanding what makes you effective, satisfied and personally successful. Once you are aware of the dominant attitudes contributing passion and purpose to your life, you will be able to clarify what drives your actions, as well as what causes conflict. For example, if you are currently questioning whether you are in the right career, knowing your attitudes will help you decide. In addition, applying an understanding of attitudes to your relationships with others will deepen your appreciation of them and clarify the “why” of your interactions.

Another way to learn more about your “values” which are your intrinsic motivators, you can take an assessment. To learn how visit http://www.thejenksgroup.com or call 858 525-3163.

 

Advertisements

Here’s Why Good Employees Quit

quit your job

Anne Fisher, contributor to CNNMoney wrote a great article, “To keep employees loyal, try asking what they want” wherein she references an interview of Aflac CEO Dan Amos quoted saying: “If you want to know what would keep someone from quitting, ask.” It sounds like common sense, but not many companies really do it”. I couldn’t agree more. Not only is it a good business decision to find out what it will take for your employees to remain loyal, it is essentially the most important factor in business sustainability.

Sure, there are many reasons why people quit, such as: employee mis-match, work/life balance, co-worker conflicts, relocation, family matters, lack of good communication, micro-managers, etc. I could go on and on but here are my top four reasons why good employees leave the workplace:

1. Poor reward system. It’s not always about having a big paycheck (although it doesn’t hurt either!). Rewarding an employee can be shown in many ways, such as corporate recognition both internally and externally (company website or press release), an additional paid mini-vacation, an opportunity to take the lead on a new project, a promotion, a donation in their name to a charity they support or the most popular form of reward, a bump in pay or an unexpected bonus. While these represent some of the ways an employer can reward workers, they don’t work without one key element; communication. What money represents to one employee may be of no concern to another. The key here is to find out what your employee’s value most and work from there.

2. Management. You know the saying: “People don’t leave companies, they leave their managers”. There is truth to this! Here’s my reasoning. When there is work to be done, its management’s duty to enforce, engage, and often times implement reward systems to keep employees satisfied and loyal. Sure, the supervisor, middle manager or team leader may implement recognition on a small scale for workers who have reached goals or helped the team in some way, but that doesn’t replace the recognition and reward employees need from upper management to stay committed.

Not everyone is skilled enough to manage processes or lead people. Just because someone is good at what they do does not mean they will be a great manager, and that’s perfectly OK! When people who are not fit to lead are put into positions of leadership it can create a catastrophic circumstance in the workplace leading to high turnover and low employee morale. So please, stop slapping “Manager” on every good worker’s name and put people in those positions only if they have the characteristics necessary to influence workers to execute the company vision and those willing to work together to get the job done.

3. Hiring/Promotions. When good workers see people who do not contribute as much as they do or they see schmoozers who do little but socialize a lot land positions they don’t deserve, it’s much like a slap in the face. Especially when those workers are busting their butts, not taking vacation, rallying the team and exceeding expectations the last thing they want to see is some Joe Schmo just waltz in and take a senior position, one they are clearly not qualified to do. You have to expect good employees will leave if you decide to hire your best friends’ cousin who has no idea what the heck they are doing, and then you have the audacity to put them in a leadership position over experienced workers. Come on! Hiring and promoting for favoritism is a major way to alienate good workers.

4. Too much work! The moment employers see employees who have good work ethic or are great in performing or rallying a team of people they begin to slap on more projects, more responsibility to those who they believe can handle it. And maybe good workers can handle more work but it becomes a problem when they begin to feel that they can’t escape from work because of the amount of responsibility and attention they receive from management. Being an excellent worker can be a blessing and a curse. It’s great for a boss to recognize employees are good, but the reward for that shouldn’t always be to pour on the workload. Since good employees tend to have a higher workload, it’s important to ensure they don’t feel overwhelmed causing them to burn out.

Ultimately the culture of an organization determines the scope of employee retention efforts which requires strategic decision making and planning. But to get good employees to stay, it’s simple; ask them what it will take. If you see someone doing great work, recognize it and reward it but don’t’ forget to find out how you can empower them to continuously deliver. –Mary V. Davids

*Photos courtesy of iStock

How Does Your Boss Measure Up?

Exceptional Boss

10 Things Only Exceptional Bosses Give Employees

Good bosses have strong organizational skills. Good bosses have solid decision-making skills. Good bosses get important things done.

Exceptional bosses do all of the above — and more. (And we remember them forever.) Sure, they care about their company and customers, their vendors and suppliers. But most importantly, they care to an exceptional degree about the people who work for them.

And that’s why they’re so rare.

Extraordinary bosses give every employee:

1. Autonomy and independence.

Great organizations are built on optimizing processes and procedures. Still, every task doesn’t deserve a best practice or a micro-managed approach. (Here’s looking at you, manufacturing industry.)

Engagement and satisfaction are largely based on autonomy and independence. I care when it’s “mine.” I care when I’m in charge and feel empowered to do what’s right.

Plus, freedom breeds innovation: Even heavily process-oriented positions have room for different approaches. (Still looking at you, manufacturing.)

Whenever possible, give your employees the autonomy and independence to work the way they work best. When you do, they almost always find ways to do their jobs better than you imagined possible.

2. Clear expectations.

While every job should include some degree of independence, every job does also need basic expectations for how specific situations should be handled.

Criticize an employee for offering a discount to an irate customer today even though yesterday that was standard practice and you make that employee’s job impossible. Few things are more stressful than not knowing what is expected from one day to the next.

When an exceptional boss changes a standard or guideline, she communicates those changes first — and when that is not possible, she takes the time to explain why she made the decision she made, and what she expects in the future.

3. Meaningful objectives.

Almost everyone is competitive; often the best employees are extremely competitive–especially with themselves. Meaningful targets can create a sense of purpose and add a little meaning to even the most repetitive tasks.

Plus, goals are fun. Without a meaningful goal to shoot for, work is just work.

No one likes work.

4. A true sense of purpose.

Everyone likes to feel a part of something bigger. Everyone loves to feel that sense of teamwork and esprit de corps that turns a group of individuals into a real team.

The best missions involve making a real impact on the lives of the customers you serve. Let employees know what you want to achieve for your business, for your customers, and even your community. And if you can, let them create a few missions of their own.

Feeling a true purpose starts with knowing what to care about and, more importantly, why to care.

5. Opportunities to provide significant input.

Engaged employees have ideas; take away opportunities for them to make suggestions, or instantly disregard their ideas without consideration, and they immediately disengage.

That’s why exceptional bosses make it incredibly easy for employees to offer suggestions. They ask leading questions. They probe gently. They help employees feel comfortable proposing new ways to get things done. When an idea isn’t feasible, they always take the time to explain why.

Great bosses know that employees who make suggestions care about the company, so they ensure those employees know their input is valued — and appreciated.

6. A real sense of connection.

Every employee works for a paycheck (otherwise they would do volunteer work), but every employee wants to work for more than a paycheck: They want to work with and for people they respect and admire–and with and for people who respect and admire them.

That’s why a kind word, a quick discussion about family, an informal conversation to ask if an employee needs any help — those moments are much more important than group meetings or formal evaluations.

A true sense of connection is personal. That’s why exceptional bosses show they see and appreciate the person, not just the worker.

7. Reliable consistency.

Most people don’t mind a boss who is strict, demanding, and quick to offer (not always positive) feedback, as long as he or she treats every employee fairly.

(Great bosses treat each employee differently but they also treat every employee fairly. There’s a big difference.)

Exceptional bosses know the key to showing employees they are consistent and fair is communication: The more employees understand why a decision was made, the less likely they are to assume unfair treatment or favoritism.

8. Private criticism.

No employee is perfect. Every employee needs constructive feedback. Every employee deserves constructive feedback. Good bosses give that feedback.

Great bosses always do it in private.

9. Public praise.

Every employee — even a relatively poor performer — does something well. Every employeedeserves praise and appreciation. It’s easy to recognize some of your best employees because they’re consistently doing awesome things. (Maybe consistent recognition is a reason they’re your best employees? Something to think about.)

You might have to work hard to find reasons to recognize an employee who simply meets standards, but that’s okay: A few words of recognition–especially public recognition–may be the nudge an average performer needs to start becoming a great performer.

10. A chance for a meaningful future.

Every job should have the potential to lead to greater things. Exceptional bosses take the time to develop employees for the job they someday hope to land, even if that job is with another company.

How can you know what an employee hopes to do someday? Ask.

Employees will only care about your business after you first show you care about them. One of the best ways is to show that while you certainly have hopes for your company’s future, you also have hopes for your employees’ futures. – Jeff Haden

Random Acts of Recognition – Motivating your Team Regularly

Good job3

 

At a company I once worked for, I once received a card in the mail, handwritten by the president, stating something like “In our leadership meetings, I have heard many times the great work you are doing for the team.” There was a token gift along with the card as well. But to me, the card meant more than any jackpot I had won – it boosted my confidence, morale, and motivation, made me happy, and more than anything – made me realize that the work I was putting in, was meaningful.

One of the least recognized ways to motivate people is.. recognizing them on a timely basis! Not via formally established processes or competitively, not at the end of the quarter or year, but truly for what they have done at any given point. Not a measure, but simply a recognition.

To give a runner’s analogy – think of recognition as water as you run a long distance – you need it on a regular interval to keep going, and not simply at the end. More importantly, every runner needs water to keep going, not just the ones who are ahead. Of course, you will award the winner the prize, but you need water for everyone to keep running.

In keeping the recognition random, without much tangible benefits, and with no formality, you are not asking for a change in performance, but truly rewarding the person for the work done. Also, given the randomness, it doesn’t encourage others to alter their performance just to win the award.

Most importantly, it costs almost nothing, and yet the benefits and impacts to the individual, team, and the company are numerous – almost too many to list.

Here are some tips to institute random acts of recognition in your workplace:

  • Have a generic name for the award or no name at all. Let it reflect the work for which the person is being recognized and not some “Hero of the week.”
  • Don’t create a process around it – like taking votes, or having people suggest on a weekly basis. Instead, keep a open-door policy on people to suggest. No specific timelines – and as the name suggests, keep it random.
  • Don’t set a criteria – it should be random that people don’t gear up to be competitive to win the next round of recognition. It can be for someone who brought in a huge deal, or someone who helped out in mailing holiday envelops. Remember, this is recognition, and not an award. By doing this, you also send a message that little things, and not just big things, matter to the company.
  • Base it on inputs from the teams – If you are the manager, you can choose whom to recognize based on what you see and hear from teams. There is nothing more rewarding than hearing that your team values you.
  • Keep it simple and genuine – and if there is a token prize, keep it the same for any level of recognition. And, the token prize should be just that, a token. So, cookies – yes, golf clubs – no. And even a simple “good job!” would do.
  • Hand-write your note – the art of writing notes is fast disappearing. By writing a small note of recognition, you communicate to the employees that you do value their contribution, by taking time to write.
  • Make it public – even if you send a note, follow-up in an email to employees on who were recognized. Acknowledge it as if it were a formal award. And, if physical proximity allows, also follow-up in person or even a quick phone call.
  • Let it come from the leadership. Doing so, makes it feel contribution being recognized at higher levels.
  • Don’t make it feel competitive. The fundamental idea is to recognize people for things they do, and not compare people for the often different types of work they do. Have multiple “winners” if you’d like.
  • Keep it random, which means no schedules, no formality, no set number of winners, and so on. Have it regularly, but randomly. – Manohar Kamath

Lost in Translation, Again!

Generations

 

Lost in Translation?  A great phrase. It means that words, once translated, can lose the original intent of their meaning.  Or for those who loved the movie, it is the name of the insightful and curiosity-piquing film by Sofia Coppola released over a decade ago.  Either way, people, we have something to talk about.  We’re missing something in our communication.

In the movie, Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson play mismatched souls who keep running into each other then begin a fledgling relationship.  Two different generations reach across the great communication divide to create meaning.  YES!  Oh, but wait, must it only happen in the movies?  NO!  Lest we get too excited, we must realize we do have issues when the generational communication wall is scaled.

It’s like we are talking in tongues thinking another generation understands our point of view.  We’re losing meaning in our communication because we don’t have the same meanings to start with!   Meaning is established by shared experience.  And, duh, we don’t share the same experiences, growing up in very different times.  End game?  Concepts are getting lost in translation.  We need to gen up (gather as much as information as we can) about the generations.

4 Concepts That Get Lost in Translation

 1) What Does Respect Mean?

The generational communication workshops I’ve conducted since 2007 tells me for older generations, it is about being acknowledged for status or effort.  For the younger generations it is about having their point of view understood without judgment.  We’re a little off here!

2) Mistakes?

In older generations, it could be grounds for dismissal.  For younger generations, highly influenced by the gaming culture, it’s a learning opportunity.  “What’s the big deal?” Oh, yeah, we have issues. 

 

 3) Trust?

“You have to earn my trust!” versus “Don’t you trust your own judgment…YOU hired me to do this job, now let me do it!” Ouch.

 4) Communication Choices

Why do Millennials choose texting and email over other communication vehicles?  One answer sums it up — “Text and email give me time to compose my thoughts.  I can see the content.  It gives me time to respond versus just react.” Wow, that blows what we might have been thinking right out of the water. 

Given my deep-seeded desire to illuminate generational thinking in an effort to enhance workplace communication, I am on a mission to rid ourselves of preconceived ideas and monitor our own personal bias as we communicate across the generations.  Here are my suggestions:

3 Things You Can Do to Get Your Message Understood

 1) You cannot think that everyone thinks like you. 

Now say this three times, memorize the mantra then create a post-it for your computer.  Everyone does not think like I do.  Get it?  You are judging people as if they were YOU.  I know you know this theoretically — but you may not be getting it emotionally.  Just keep saying it.  The old adage “Fake it ‘til you make it” applies here.    Resist the urge to add “ – and the world would be better off if everyone did think like me.”

 2) Don’t just walk away! Try again.

When you see that look in the person’s eyes that they really do not know where you are coming from when you communicate (or even worse, delegate), don’t just walk away!  Try again.  I know we are in an era where time seems more valuable than gold but we must make a decision.  Do you want to connect the first time or do it over and over again trying to get it right when your expectations aren’t met?  Make the investment.

 3) Tailor your message to the folks you are talking to.

After all, they do not think like you do so you must translate your thoughts into their lingo.  What does this look like in real life?

    • Use visual examples, modify those dry and boring BabyBoomer PowerPoints into something interactive and entertaining if you really want to connect with the younger audience.  (We do that for clients a lot!).
    • Use verbal examples that reference experiences that your audience can relate to and not just that you can relate to.
    • Use words that resonate with each generation.  You can find our more on that front from my May 20, 2013 article, 4 Communication Tips to Open Your Mind & Strengthen Your Vocabulary.

Conclusion

Look.  This translation stuff is tricky.  We think we are communicating because what we say makes sense to us.  In our fast-paced environments where we throw instructions like whiffle balls as we run down hallways, we are not only striking out but we are whiffing big time.  A lot of energy spent with not enough return.

We are missing a handful of key communication concepts about the sender, the receiver and the message. It’s Communications 101 with a generational twist.  Let’s be aware of the hazards of generational miscommunication and make a commitment to translate our concepts well as we send our message by keeping the generations of our receivers in mind.  -Sherri Petro

 

Here’s What Really Motivates Your Employees (It’s Not What You Think)

Dangling a carrot

In Daniel Pink’s book Drive, the underlying message is that a leader can provide a motivating environment but can’t motivate his or her employees; motivation comes from within each individual.

This goes entirely against the common belief that given more carrots, an employee will be motivated to behave in ways that will increase the success of a company. Yet, time and again, leaders have found that providing more money and better benefits, extrinsic motivators, only provides a short-term effect on behavior. Extrinsic motivators are not sustainable.

In yesterday’s article Top 5 Leadership Mistakes, one of them was misunderstanding motivation.

I outlined the three attributes that, when implemented effectively within the organization, can increase the long-term behavioral changes the leader is looking to instill in the organization.

And what can a company expect from its employees when they provide an environment that provides for autonomy, mastery, and purpose?

An academic study by Richard Ryan and Edward Deci in 2000 issue of American Psychologist showed that focusing on internal motivators can lead to higher self-esteem and self-actualization, while a focus on external motivators, on average, leads to lower self-esteem and self-actualization.

In turn, employees driven by internal motivators demonstrated a greater level of persistence, creativity, energy, and well being, which increased the performance level of those employees.

So if, in fact, employee performance increases with intrinsic motivators, why aren’t more companies creating and implementing a plan to transition to a culture of autonomy, mastery and purpose? Because it is not easy! It is a massive shift in long-term beliefs and requires both employer and employees to change their mindset as well as the way they work.

What are the critical success factors to transitioning your workplace to an intrinsically motivated organization? They are the three C’s:

  1. Creativity: Be able to devise innovative ways of working outside the traditional mode. Bring in outside assistance if you don’t find you are making the progress you desire.
  2. Communication: Changes to the work process need to be communicated to all employees via multiple methods. Communication should be ongoing and frequent and provide employees with the opportunity to have their questions answered.
  3. Change Management: Demonstrate how the changes will positively affect employees, create methods to identify employees who may be struggling with the changes, and have resources available to help them adjust.

Beth Armknecht Miller, CMC

Author: Are You Talent Obsessed?, Leadership Development Advisor, Vistage Chair, Speaker, Executive Coach